In the heart of vast lands,
is pulsating India.
Inconsequential people among distant undulating granite hills,
along which weak polio infected legs, limp,
to rehabilitate other weak, polio affected legs.
Under the blazing sun,
passing rice, mulberry and tomato fields,
meeting wizened black sun baked faces,
teeth dark with years of chewing beetle smile back at you,
drinking cup after miniature metal cup of tea,
into villages that smell like cow sheds.
Little, under nourished children cling to their mothers saris,
others play in school grounds,
They study, three classes to a teacher,
in poorly lit rooms, crowded with charts hanging on threads.
in long oversized shabby uniforms,
old tattered bags, bulging with books.
Along narrow potholed roads,
shallow gutters carrying smelly sewage,
incongruously sit new flat roofed houses.
big Jersey cows tied to the nearest tree.
the infrequent battered buses with passengers on their roofs, weave past,
leaving clouds of dust in their wake.
my feet in worn out slippers walk in and out of these villages.
They stare at me, like they would a rare animal,
the children find my numerous earrings in only one ear especially funny.
they speak to me, but these are strange sounds.
“illa Kannada” is all my vocabulary lets me say.
Who is she?
Why is she here?
From where is she?
What does she do?
What languages does she speak? they ask my colleague.
i feel like a fool
but I guess it makes for good “exposure” i think wryly.
Why am I here?
What can I do for them?
What right do I have to intrude into their lives?
Why am I making myself an exhibit?
I am here for a “first hand experience” of disability in rural Kolar,
so that when I sit in AC rooms,
surrounded by self appointed “important” people,
i can argue about what I saw.
like it will give four year old Ravanamma of Uppergenahalli her vision back.